Heavy Traffic

Miami
12.11.07

Left: Collectors Debra and Dennis Scholl. (Photo: David Velasco) Right: Wexner Center director Sherry Geldin with dealer Carol Greene. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky)


Art-fair week in Miami Beach may be the one time and place in the world where it’s impossible to avoid feeling both cosseted and cast out at once. Why, for instance, must every luxury hotel blast horrid music in its public areas twenty-four hours a day? Is there a local ordinance mandating guests spend more time out partying than in bed sleeping? I have no complaints, really: Miami always has been just another name for gaudy excess, and on that level it did not disappoint.

Between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday night, I enjoyed plenty of advantage, hopping a ride to far-off MoCA in Stefania Bortolami’s prom-night stretch limo, feasting at a Baldwin Gallery dinner at The Setai with dealer Richard Edwards, getting a cool hairdo from artist Cary Kwok at the Herald St booth, and puzzling with design experts over whether the pendulous, fabulously fishnetted Swarovski-crystal “Light Socks” designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro were more representative of male genitalia or female mammaries. Clearly, it helps to get out of town now and then; these aren’t the same sort of challenges one faces at gallery openings in New York, where people rarely want to talk about the art on view, only the clothes, or the surgery, or the money. In Miami, they want it all.

Left: Producer Laura Bickford. Right: Artist Peter Nadin. (Photos: Linda Yablonsky)


By Friday, I was ready for some real-world amusements, beginning with UBS wealth manager Chris Apgar’s brunch at the National, where goodie bags carried K/R, the new book from architects John Keenen and Terence Riley, and brunchers included collector Dianne Ackerman, dealer Sara Meltzer, and Keenen himself. From there, it was off to Debra and Dennis Scholl’s modest home on the Intercoastal to view this year’s rotation of their collection. The guests were nursing hangovers; the art, as curated by Matthew Higgs and Jeremy Deller, was, for a change, pleasantly not overhung. Just before I left, Oscar-winning producer Laura Bickford (Citizen X, Traffic) arrived, having just wrapped The Argentine, her new Benicio del Toro–starring Che Guevara biopic, in Bolivia. She was stopping by on her way to New York, while I made tracks to the Geisai fair at Pulse to dally among artist-dealers—like Chelsea’s favorite copyist, Eric Doeringer—before heading over to the Scope fairgrounds, where New York artist/farmer Peter Nadin was staging daily “Art and Agriculture” events with three-and-a-half-star chef Gwenaël Le Pape.

As Le Pape smoked ham from pigs that Nadin had raised on his upstate–New York farm in a custom cooker that I first mistook for a stack of black Tony Smith–like cubes, Nadin folded gorgeous sheets of numbered and signed papers handmade from cattails over delicious slices of ham, imprinting them with pig-grease stains before handing them to hungry art lovers. It was, perhaps, the most confounding performance of this most consumer-driven week; many people seemed flummoxed by art they could take home for free.

Nadin’s ham only whetted my appetite for Carol Greene’s plein air dinner at The Standard for curators like Stefan Kalmar, Daniel Birnbaum, Massimiliano Gioni, and Richard Flood and collectors like Randy Slifka, Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Mera and Don Rubell, and the Scholls. Despite the fact, or because, there were only two artists present (Miami’s Jim Drain and Naomi Fisher), this was one of the most gracious parties of the week, even with Slifka talking nonstop about his art enthusiasms (among them Sigmar Polke and Robyn O’Neil). I was sitting next to the husband (Matthew Higgs) of “one of the world’s best photographers, Anne Collier,” Slifka said. Higgs, meanwhile, spoke of “the 150 people taking cell-phone pictures of themselves in front of the Anish Kapoor” at Lisson Gallery’s booth and left early to join a larger contingent of artists at Mark Handforth’s dinner nearby.

Left: Collector Randy Slifka. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky) Right: Collector Joel Dictrow with dealer Marianne Boesky. (Photo: David Velasco)


On the way out, while waiting for Gagosian Gallery’s Bob Monk to get his rented car from The Standard’s valet-parking crew, a man in a white linen suit slowly approached the Wexner Center’s Sherri Geldin, who was standing in front of the door with the Whitney’s Donna De Salvo. “Excuse me, Ma’am,” he said, in a gentle southern drawl. It was author Tom Wolfe, in Miami to research a new book. The waves parted. “If it had been anyone else calling me ‘Ma’am,’ I’d just feel old,” Geldin said after he had doddered his way inside. We all agreed he was charming.

I raced back to the Delano’s rooftop solarium, just in time to catch artist Doug Aitken leaving with 303 Gallery’s Mari Spirito and Lisa Spellman for the Visionaire “Sound”-issue party in the hotel’s new basement-level Florida Room. Approaching the entrance, we were repelled by a contingent of nasty bouncers who were clearly angling for a fight. Though it meant giving up a chance to hear 1980s supermodel Linda Evangelista talk-sing her contribution to Visionaire, “I Don’t Get out of Bed for Less than $10,000 a Day,” I accepted Lauren Taschen’s offer of a VIP BMW and went with Aitken to the NADA party at the Paris Theater, where Gang Gang Dance was onstage giving a piercing concert to the dazed, young-thing audience gathered around them and seeming not to hear a note.

Left: Artists Jim Drain and Naomi Fisher. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky) Right: Art adviser Mark Fletcher. (Photo: David Velasco)


By Saturday night, I was ready for anything—and I got it when I arrived, late, at the temporary Soho House tent on the beach, having missed the Julian SchnabelLou Reed dinner at the Delano because of another dinner that was too much fun to leave. The London import’s actual club in Miami won’t open till next year, in what used to be the Sovereign Hotel. Why it had to preview during Miami Basel, I don’t know; there wasn’t a single art-world denizen present. However, Dunhill had sent pitchmen to give out pastel-colored cigarettes rolled from three different and heavily aromatic blends of tobacco and pour fruity new cocktails custom-designed to go with them. A fellow named Sergio was engraving the complimentary silver-plated cigarette cases. It may not have had much to do with art—I didn’t even see anyone smoking—but it was very Miami. I thought about the black vinyl bracelets handed out at Pulse by artist Jennifer Dalton, imprinted with the phrase I’D RATHER BE HOT THAN RICH and the complementary white ones that read I’D RATHER BE RICH THAN HOT. If I didn’t know it before, I knew it now: Even after five days in an art bubble, far outside the real world, I’d rather be among art folks than not.

Linda Yablonsky

Left: Chef Gwenaël Le Pape. Right: Collector Martin Eisenberg. (Photos: Linda Yablonsky)


Left: Gang Gang Dance. Right: Dealer Stefania Bortolami with Meredith Darrow. (Photos: Linda Yablonsky)


Left: Art Basel director Sam Keller with Judith Keller. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky) Right: Curator Tom Eccles. (Photo: David Velasco)


Left: Standard (Oslo)'s Eivind Furnesvik and Marta Kuzma, director of the Office of Contemporary Art Norway. (Photo: David Velasco) Right: 303 Gallery's Lisa Spellman with artist Peter Toth. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky)


Left: Skater Tony Alva with Antoine Guerrero, director of operations and exhibitions at P.S. 1. Right: P.S. 1's Tim Goossens. (Photos: David Velasco)


Left: Dealer Monika Sprüth. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky) Right: Bill Arning, curator of the MIT List Visual Arts Center. (Photo: David Velasco)